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Charter CEO Expresses Skepticism About Disney-Fox-Warners’ Mega Sports Bundle

Charter Communications president and CEO Chris Winfrey has responded to a planned sports streaming joint venture from Disney, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery set to offer live linear channels, such as ESPN, ABC, Fox, TNT and TBS, games and other sports rights from all three companies on a nonexclusive basis.

“From what I hear, whether it’s 60, 65, 70 percent of the sports content, I’m not sure it really scratches the itch for a sports fanatic, or that a sports fanatic has no interest in news or entertainment,” Winfrey told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference during a session that was webcast on Wednesday.

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Expected to launch in the fall, in time for the NFL season, the sports streaming joint venture will be available directly to consumers, but also as a bundle with WBD’s Max, as well as Disney’s ESPN+ and Hulu.

But Winfrey did welcome the three Hollywood media giants deciding that bundling like-for-like streaming content had benefits. “What I interpreted from the announcement is that three of the largest programmers decided that genre-based packaging is the way to go,” he added.

And that’s a strategy long urged by content distributors like Charter. “So if you step back, it’s an admission from the programmers that that is the right way to go, together with a la carte, which is also something you thought you’d never see,” Winfrey argued.

The Charter chief was also decidedly coy when asked about Wall Street chatter around his company considering a takeover of rival cable TV operator Altice USA. He began with the usual statement about not commenting on market speculation, before adding “we do generally like cable M&A, but it has to be in a way that generates value for shareholders.”

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